So, you dream of running a successful goat farm. The pitter patter of goat kid hooves makes your heart skip a beat. Your only problem is that you don’t know where to start. This guide is going to walk you through how to start a successful goat farm.
Types of Goat Farms
There are a couple main types of goat farms. Before you start a goat farm, you will need to decide:
Meat Goat Farm
The meat goat farm is pretty self-explanatory. One of the first things you will want to decide on for your meat goat farm is which meat goat breed you want to go with.
There are multiple meat goat breeds out there and each one has their own set of pros and cons. Mixed breeds are also an option that many people choose to go with on their meat goat farms. Most of the time, it is encouraged that you have a purebred buck to raise the quality of your does and their kids.
You will also need to look at the ground you have for goats. Since goats are grazers, you will want to see how efficient your land will be for your goats, and take that into consideration as you plan.
One of the final phases of your plan will need to be looking at where to process your goats for butcher. We have an excellent Ultimate Meat Goat Farm Guide that goes into even more detail for you to look at.
Dairy Goat Farm
The dairy goat farm offers many opportunities. There are many products that you can produce with the milk you get from your does.
To start off your farm, you will need to decide which dairy goat breed you want to go with. Just like with meat goats, you can go with mixed breeds, but it is highly encouraged to have a full bred buck to better the quality of your herd.
Your land is another thing to consider for dairy goats, just like with meat goats, your goats will need to have access to high quality grazing land if you let them out to graze, so you will need to determine if your land will be sufficient for them.
Finally, you will need to look at what products you will produce and who you will use to process those products. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture has a very in depth Dairy Goat Farm Guide that you can look at that goes into great depth.
Goat Cheese Farm
If you want to specialize your dairy goat farm into cheese here are a couple things to consider…
First off, what kind of cheese(s) do you want to produce? There are many different kinds of cheese and the process for each kind is different along with its retail price.
You will also need to consider breeds and land, just like with other goat farms. Mother Earth News has a great Small-Scale Goat Cheese Business article that can give you a better feel for goat cheese farming.
Goat Milk Soap Farm
Cheese is not the only thing that you can make with goat milk, soap is another.
Goat milk soap is a popular item found in many farmer’s markets across the country, as well as gaining momentum in many local grocery stores.
The market for goat soap and other health products is definitely there. Inc.com has a great article on how a Small Family-Run Farm is Using Goat’s Milk Soap Into a Cash Crop.
Goat Brush and Land Clearing Business
There is one thing that goats are well known for, and that is their reputation as garbage guts. People have realized this and taken advantage of it by using goats to eat down unwanted vegetation and turning this into a business. Many people like this form of cleaning land up since it is eco-friendly.
To start up a goat brush and land clearing business you will need different equipment than a dairy or meat farm would, since your business is run very differently. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Extension has a great Using Goats for Brush Control as a Business Strategy guide that you can look at more to give you a better idea of what this business entails.
Goat and Sheep Farming Business
Goats and sheep are similar animals and can be raised together. However, it needs to be noted that goats need copper, but copper can be lethal to sheep since they have a hard time getting rid of it.
That being said, if you decide to run a goat and sheep farm, you may want to separate them so you don’t have sheep getting to much copper in their bodies. Morning Chores has a good article on What to Consider When Raising Sheep and Goats Together that you can read to get more educated on how you can raise both animals together.
Goat Farming Costs
Some people naively think that farming is a cheap venture, but come to a rude awakening when they decide to start their own farm. Goat farming is not an exception. There are so many supplies, property, shelter, vet visits, laws, and more that all add up to take money from the bottom line of goat farming.
Meat Goat Farming Start-Up Costs
When starting up a meat goat farm you may get sticker shock. Your meat goats alone can cost a small fortune. Depending on the quality of your goats you may spend a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand for each goat.
You will also need fencing and shelter for your goats. The size you choose to go with for your pasture and shelter will largely determine how much money you are going to spend on them along with the materials you choose to use.
Feed is another factor that you will have to look at. The amount of time your goats can spend out on pasture along with the dietary needs of your goats will determine how much you spend on feed.
Finally, you cannot forget health equipment and vet visits. Vet visits can cost a lot of money, so you will want to budget accordingly for any unexpected vet visits throughout the year while buying health equipment to prevent unnecessary vet visits.
Dairy Goat Farming Start-Up Costs
A dairy goat farm has many of the same costs associated with meat goat farms. However, you will need to have dairy equipment. Dairy equipment can quickly add up, so you will need to look at what you will need for your farm. Depending on the size of farm you want to grow, that equipment may well be worth the investment.
Make sure that you buy quality dairy equipment when starting your dairy goat farm so that you can avoid future problems.
Goat Land and Brush Clearing Start-Up Costs
Unlike dairy and meat goat farms, goat land and brush clearing businesses do not have the same needs.
First off, you will need a truck and trailer that will fit the number of goats you plan on using for your business. You will also need to have insurance on your goats just in case they cause damage to property.
Land and brush clearing goats may cost you less though, since they do not need to be the same quality as your dairy and meat goats. Depending on how often your goats are on your property will determine the size of your own pasture, the amount of feed you buy, and the shelter you build.
Goat Farming Business Plans
Unless you are capital-rich, you may need to go to a bank to apply for a loan to start your goat farm business.
When you go into a bank you will need to have a thorough business plan. Even if you don’t need a loan, a business plan is still a good idea so that you can take an educated look at your business and make any necessary changes before you get your feet wet.
When making your business plan, you will want to make it as detailed as possible as far as money is concerned. You will want to look at all of the costs that are going to be associated with your goat business as well as the potential income you may make. Try to be conservative when planning out your income so that you can make a budget that won’t sink your business before it gets running.
GoatAid has a great Goat Farming Business Plan for Beginners that can help you out as you make your business plan.
Whatever goat business you end up doing, always keep a positive mindset. You will most likely run into a lot of hurdles along the way, but don’t let them discourage you. One day you will enjoy the pitter patter of goat kid hooves and be able to look at the farm that you worked so hard to grow!
- Buchanan, L. (2016, November 21). How This Family-Run Farm Is Turning Goat's Milk Soap Into a Cash Crop. Retrieved July 21, 2020
- Fernandez, D. (n.d.). Using Goats for Brush Control as a Business Strategy. Retrieved July 21, 2020
- GoatAid. (2020). Goat Farming Business Plan for Beginners. Retrieved July 21, 2020
- Mother Earth News Editors. (1982, January/February). A Small-Scale Goat Cheese Business - Sustainable Farming. Retrieved July 21, 2020
- Rush, C. (2019, March 14). Getting Started with Meat Goat Farming. Retrieved July 21, 2020
- Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. (2008). Starting a Dairy Goat Business [Brochure]. Madison, WI: Author. Retrieved July 21, 2020